MLB handed out the competitive balance draft picks for the 2018 draft on Thursday afternoon. The Orioles got about as lucky as you can get in this process, being awarded the #33 overall pick in the draft. That's the second-highest pick in Round A, which takes place immediately after the first round of the draft.
In essence, by being awarded the #33 pick, the Orioles got themselves a late first round pick they would not have had otherwise. That's good! Don't get too excited about it, though, because there's a decent chance the team will end up trading it before using it.
These picks are the only draft picks that can be traded, and in the past, when the Orioles have had them, they have tended to trade them. Before this year, the Orioles traded the pick they were awarded in three straight drafts:
- 2014 - #37 overall pick (Round A) traded to Houston in the Bud Norris deal. Houston used the pick on outfielder Derek Fisher.
- 2015 - #74 overall pick (Round B) traded to Los Angeles Dodgers in Ryan Webb salary dump. LA used the pick on DC-born pitcher Josh Sborz, who spent 2017 in Double-A.
- 2016 - #76 overall pick (Round B) traded to Atlanta in Brian Matusz salary dump. Atlanta selected catcher Brett Cumberland with the pick.
Back in June, the Orioles had the #74 overall pick again as part of this process. To my surprise, they actually made the pick, selecting Xavier lefty Zac Lowther, who had a promising professional debut at short-season Aberdeen after being drafted. Let's hope that they treat the pick they've been awarded for next June the same way and don't give it away in an annoying trade.
The process is somewhat confusing and it's made even moreso by constant tweaks. In the current CBA, the rules for these competitive balance picks were changed as follows:
The Competitive Balance Rounds are no longer determined via lottery. Instead, in 2017, all teams that fell in the bottom 10 in revenue or bottom 10 in market size got a pick in Round A, after the first round, or Round B, following the second round. Using a formula that takes revenue and winning percentage into account, six teams were awarded Round A picks, with eight teams getting picks in Comp Round B.
In 2018, the groups of teams switch places, meaning there will be eight Comp Round A picks and six in Round B. Major League Baseball re-ran the aforementioned formula, and while no teams dropped out because they are no longer in the bottom 10 in revenue and/or market size, the order in each round has changed.
The Orioles were good in 2016, so they ended up towards the bottom of the Round B group for this year's draft. With the teams being flipped, the O's move up to Round A, and since they weren't good, they're now towards the top of the Round A group. The Rays bump in ahead of the Orioles at #32 by virtue of not signing a pick they made at #31 last season. Fun!
Don't set it all in stone just yet, because the Round A picks could still move back, depending on how the qualifying offer free agents shake out. A team that receives revenue sharing payouts, loses a player who rejected the qualifying offer, and sees that player sign with another team with a contract greater than $50 million, will get a pick after the first round but before the Round A picks.
Yeah, it's confusing. For now, here's the order for these competitive balance rounds:
- 31. Pirates
- 32. Rays - compensation for failing to sign Drew Rasmussen
- 33. Orioles
- 34. Padres
- 35. Diamondbacks
- 36. Royals
- 37. Indians
- 38. Rockies
- 39. Cardinals
Orioles, don't trade this pick, and especially don't trade it in a salary dump for a measly few million bucks. Thanks.